Adventurer trying to live like Bear Grylls in Scottish wilderness found dead

Bear Grylls, the inspiration for David Austin
Bear Grylls, the inspiration for David Austin
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A MAN found dead in a remote bothy is thought to have been an adventurer who hoped to spend a year living alone in the Scottish wilderness.

David Austin, 29, from Derby, was found dead in a hut by a railway worker a mile south of one of Scotland’s most remote stations, Rannoch in Highland Perthshire, on Hogmanay.

His body is believed to have been lying there for several weeks when it was discovered, and a post-mortem examination found there were no suspicious circumstances behind his death.

Mr Austin is thought to have told family in November that he was heading to the Highlands to live out his dream of surviving in the wilderness.

He planned to live rough on a year-long adventure, using techniques like those used by adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls, despite being urged to reconsider by family and friends.

He is understood to have attended several courses in outdoor survival and bushcraft skills over the past couple of years with a view to realising a long-held dream of living alone in the wild.

Mr Austin is thought to not even have taken a mobile phone with him.

A number of personal possessions including a knife and a daily journal were found next to his body. It is believed he may have died of hypothermia.

After leaving Derby, Mr Austin is thought to have travelled to Glasgow and then on to Corrour – which is the UK’s highest mainline station – on the West Highland line.

He is then believed to have spent his 29th birthday on 3 December alone outdoors, in the first heavy snowfall of the season.

A hostel employee at the Loch Ossian SYHA hostel on Rannoch Moor, said: “He didn’t stay here. He told me he’d been camping in the woods on the north side of the loch that weekend, then he just mosied over to have a look at the hostel.”

Mary McArthur, one of only four permanent residents in the Rannoch station area, said: “The story we heard was that he had taken a year out from work and was going to live off the land.

“And he was supposed to have walked down the line towards Rannoch station so perhaps he decided to take shelter in the bothy.

“But what happened after that, who knows? We heard he was well equipped and knew what he was doing.

“We heard there were no suspicious circumstances but weren’t sure if it was hypothermia, or a health complaint.

“At the end of the day, it’s someone’s son and a sad way to go in the middle of nowhere all alone.”

His body was found in a remote bothy used by track inspection workers.

A British Transport Police spokesman confirmed the man had been identified as a 29-year-old man from the east Midlands, and that there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances.

A Crown Office spokesman confirmed the procurator fiscal in Perth had recently received a report from BTP but was unable to provide any further details.

Rannoch is an isolated north-west section of Highland Perthshire between the A9 to the east and the A82 to the west, featuring the famous West Highland Railway line that crosses more than 23 miles of moorland.

Survival school instructor Ian Moran, who teaches extreme survival and bushcraft skills, said that it was extremely unlikely anybody could survive a Highland winter outdoors by living off the land.

He said: “It would be a tall order for even the most professional person who calls himself a survivalist.

“Maybe centuries ago, when Scotland was covered in woodland and teeming with wildlife, but not now.”